“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalm 133:1-3).
Some time ago Marc D. Carpenter wrote the following piece on Christian Unity:
“What an indescribably precious thing love and unity among believers is! It is a unity based on our unity with Christ. God is our father, and we are brothers (including believing women). It is a unity based on a common walk in the light: ‘but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7). It is a unity based on a common belief of and defense of the truth of the gospel: ‘… that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel’ (Philippians 1:27b). It is a unity based on common adversaries and common suffering: ‘and in nothing be terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake’ (Philippians 1:28-29).
We love the same things. We hate the same things. We are closer than any natural blood relations. We love our Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. We hate all false gospels that condition salvation in any way, to any degree, on the sinner. We speak peace to each other based on our common salvation. We do not speak peace to our brothers’ enemies. We desire to fellowship with each other. We rejoice together in Christ and defend each other against the attacks of our enemies. We help each other in times of need. These are the ways in which we show our love for each other.
God said, ‘He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes’ (1 John 2:9-11). Loving the brothers is not an option. Those who do not love believers show themselves to be unregenerate. For example, if a professing believer says that some who believe in universal atonement are his brothers in Christ, then he is speaking peace to the enemies of the people of God, showing that he actually hates the people of God. His is not in unity with the people of God. He is one of those ‘which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned’ (Romans 16:17). We are to point out and avoid such people. But when we find those who believe the truth and thus judge by the truth, we are to embrace them as our brothers in Christ. We may have differences, but they are not gospel differences. We are to bear with the weaknesses of one another in love.
God’s people are all over the world, of different races, tongues, and circumstances. Let us who are believers seek them out and love them” (Marc D. Carpenter; http://www.outsidethecamp.org/unity.htm).
True Christians believe AND judge by the truth. They do NOT “believe” the truth while judging by the lie. Unlike the multitudes of Tolerant Calvinist ψευδάδελφος (Galatians 2:4), true brothers (and sisters) do NOT profess to believe the TRUE gospel while judging saved and lost by the FALSE gospel. The gospel standard a person uses to judge regenerate and unregenerate is the gospel standard that is truly believed in (Romans 1:16-17).
God the Holy Spirit has brought His unregenerate elect out of ignorant darkness and brought them into His marvelous regenerating gospel light:
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). And through the word of God’s gospel comes “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” as an immediate and inevitable FRUIT of the Spirit’s regenerating work. Tolerant Calvinists such as James White vehemently DENY this precious truth.
“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:3-6).
Marc had written:
“We may have differences, but they are not gospel differences.”
Ephesians 4:3-6 expresses the truth that Christians are unified in the gospel truth. There are absolutely no doctrinal differences when it comes to the hope and ground of their salvation: The atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ ALONE.
Ephesians 4:3-6 unity does NOT admit of the diabolical degrees of tolerant Calvinism by which a person is “regenerated” by the false gospel of Galatians 1:8-9 and only later “grows into” the true gospel of Romans 1:16-17. These tolerant Calvinists believe that a “jesus” whom the apostles did NOT preach is revealed to at least some people upon regeneration (2 Corinthians 11:4; cf. Galatians 1:15-16). This undoubtedly reveals that they believe the anathematized gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Galatians 1:8-9).
“…And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).
However Ephesians 4:11-16 is interpreted, the following is clear from the whole of Scripture:
Some true Christians are “babes in Christ” who require further instruction and correction “till [they] all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
All true mature Christian “non-babes” without exception require instruction and correction and seek to grow in the grace and “knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” to press on to perfection (Philippians 3:12-14; cf. 2 Peter 3:18).
1 Corinthians 3:1-4 may represent one kind of doctrinal wind a true Christian can be carried about by:
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
However immature a regenerate babe in Christ may be, it is IMPOSSIBLE for them to be carried about by those doctrinal winds that are indicative of lostness:
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).
“Everyone transgressing and not abiding in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. The one abiding in the doctrine of Christ, this one has the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bear this doctrine, do not receive him into the house, and do not speak a greeting to him. For the one speaking a greeting shares in his evil works” (2 John 1:9-11).
“And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:4-5).
Christ’s sheep have differences, but they are not gospel differences. They are unified in their knowledge of the True Shepherd. And a stranger who died for everyone without exception (in whatever “sense”) they will not follow, but will flee from him. For they know not the voice of strangers. Theirs is a blessed unified hearing, knowing, following, and fleeing. They give thanks and glory to the One who was pierced for their transgressions and who guides them in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3; cf. Isaiah 53:5).